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Below is a statement from the Directory of Open Access Journals in response to the recent "sting" that was reported in Science in an article entitled "Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?" by John Bohannon.
DOAJ was established in 2003 to highlight the importance, quality and growing prevalence of Open Access journals. For 10 years, DOAJ has been at the heart of quality open access journals, increasing visibility of open access content and encouraging best practices amongst open access publishers. Today there are 9948 journals in DOAJ, every one of them manually reviewed and vetted before being allowed to be listed. Every journal is checked against a number of selection criteria.
In recent times, the need for even more rigorous and careful selection criteria has become apparent. The number of journal suggestions from bogus publishers, or for journals that do not adhere to strict publishing standards, has increased dramatically. Indeed, the exercise conducted by Bohannon provides some useful data about the scale of, and the problems associated with, this group of low-quality publishers. Proactively, DOAJ has been working on new criteria for the best part of this year. The revised criteria will deter low-quality publishers from suggesting journals in the first place and will reveal those who fail to step up to the mark within the grace period. As far back as June 2013, DOAJ opened up the first draft of the revised for criteria for public consultation. A response to the consultation period was then published in September along with a second revision of the criteria. All the documents have been, and remain, publicly available under these two links.
We intend to publish a full and detailed response to the article as soon as we have had a chance to review all of the data. This will include details on what actions we will take toward those journals who have accepted the fake paper for publication. However, there is one urgent clarification and correction that we would like to make now. In the results section of the article, DOAJ Managing Director, Lars Bjørnshauge, is quoted thus:
'A bigger surprise is that for DOAJ publishers that completed the review process, 45% accepted the bogus paper. "I find it hard to believe," says Bjørnshauge, the DOAJ founder. "We have been working with the community to draft new tighter criteria for inclusion." '
This rather rash piece of editing [paraphrasing] is misleading and alters the original sense of the email from Lars to Mr Bohannon which, for the record, we reproduce here. The unedited and full text reads:
'I find it hard to believe that you got 64 out of 168 papers accepted just like that in the first go!
Since we took over DOAJ we have been working with the community to draft new tighter criteria for inclusion - http://www.doaj.org/doaj?func=news&nId=311&uiLanguage=en - all information provided by publishers to be publicly available and the community will be watchdog.
FYI: During the last 50 days more journals have been removed than added to the DOAJ.'
Finally, DOAJ fully supports the statement issued by OASPA earlier today which highlights what can and cannot be concluded from the article. It is important to remember that the conclusions drawn by the article only cover a small percentage of open access journals and cannot be applied to the wider open access community.